Andrews coy on big spending promises

RATTLING THE CAGE: Opposition leader Daniel Andrews addresses the Bendigo Business Council at the Foundry Hotel on Friday. Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY

RATTLING THE CAGE: Opposition leader Daniel Andrews addresses the Bendigo Business Council at the Foundry Hotel on Friday. Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY

WHEN Daniel Andrews addressed the Bendigo Business Council on Friday, he made it clear he wasn't in town to try and buy votes.

"I'm not here to offer everyone a plan for every issue - that is not my style, that is not my way," he said.

What Mr Andrews did have to offer was a philosophical breakdown of what a future Victorian Labor government might look like.

He wanted long-term infrastructure goals for regional Victoria to try and beat the four-year election cycle.

"We can't have a situation where whenever the government changes there is a two or three year delay while the new government works out what it's all about," Mr Andrews said.

"And say, 'Oh, we can't build all of these projects that are shovel-ready because they're associated with the previous government'.

"That sort of self-indulgence really doesn't work."

About 100 members of the Bendigo Business Council listened in as the opposition leader spoke for half an hour, covering topics such as vocational education, health and education spending and jobs growth in Bendigo.

He was critical of "cuts" from the Coalition government, but said he "could see some strength" in the merger of Bendigo and Kangan TAFEs.

There were no new policy announcements, but Mr Andrews did receive a few targeted questions from the floor.

We need to continue the momentum in upgrading our passenger rail services and our rail freight assets. - Daniel Andrews

One question focused on whether a Labor government would continue with its $600 million blueprint for regional development, announced in the lead-up to the 2010 state election.

"We think a regional development infrastructure leveraging fund is much better and there are many different examples from community sporting facilities to creative spaces," Mr Andrews said.

"If you're just granting money instead of leveraging off the state's investment then you're probably missing a whole bunch of opportunities."

He was also asked about the growth in freight and logistics and the flow-on effect to regional Victoria.

"Freight and logistics is one of our biggest growth industries... the strength in that industry is if it's truly a multi-modal industry - so not too high a concentration in one particular mode," Mr Andrews said.

"Having said that, heavy rail costs an awful lot of money.

"We need to continue the momentum in upgrading our passenger rail services and our rail freight assets.

"I'll deliver improvement."

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